Last year, our legislators kept many New Year’s resolutions: trimming the fat from the state budget, making sure taxpayers kept more of their hard-earned money and expanding educational opportunity for children across the state. This Session, there are several legislative proposals that would maintain the steady momentum toward a more efficient and effective state government.
At the top of the list are measures, introduced by Republican state Rep. Bryan Avila and Sens. Rene Garcia and Tom Lee to continue ridding our state of corporate welfare handouts for a few favored industries at the expense of hardworking taxpayers. These bills seek to end giveaways to professional sports franchises and make sure ordinary Floridians no longer bear the cost when wealthy teams want to build new stadiums or renovate their arenas. Lawmakers should pass them right away.
Next up, slashing red tape that restricts our state’s economic growth.
Common-sense regulatory reform bills introduced by Republican Rep. Manny Diaz and Sen. Keith Perry would require the state to review regulations annually and get rid of any that are redundant, overly burdensome or that disproportionately harm small businesses. This is a practical way to make it easier for businesses and entrepreneurs to do what they do best: grow our economy and create jobs.
And, while they have their scissors out, lawmakers should also slice through our state’s convoluted certificate of need laws that force health care providers to get a government permission slip before expanding or building new facilities, offering additional services or buying equipment. These restrictive mandates decrease the number of health care facilities and the variety of services available, ultimately making health care more expensive and limiting options for patients. Getting rid of the certificate of need and pursuing additional reforms to laws governing ambulatory surgical centers and other facilities will empower patients and improve our health care choices.
Alongside reforms such as these, lawmakers can also give a leg up to workers and students in our state.
A union recertification bill would increase transparency and ensure that public employee unions remain accountable to the Florida workers they are supposed to represent.
Rep. Rob Rommel and Sen. Dennis Baxley’s campus free speech bills would do away with so-called “free speech zones” that restrict students’ First Amendment rights to small, designated spaces, instead re-establishing the right to free expression everywhere on the campuses of the state’s public universities. The measure would stimulate our institutions of higher learning to become a marketplace of ideas where students are exposed to diverse viewpoints and learn the value of civil discourse — skills critical to success in our complex world.
There’s something for everyone in these proposals and Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys have much to be enthusiastic about.
By building on past success, our lawmakers can make the Sunshine State an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
Chris Hudson is Americans for Prosperity’s Florida state director.